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Western University graduates celebrate convocation in-person for first time since 2019

Western University faculty of education graduates Jamie-Lee Chisholm Alyssa Plaquet, Shelby Hayward, and Susana Alfaro. June 13, 2022. Sawyer Bogdan / Global News

After two years of pandemic delays, grads at Western University in London, Ont., are getting the chance to celebrate in person.

Starting Monday, June 13, until June 24, the university is resuming in-person convocation for the class of 2022.

Western provost and vice-president academic Florentine Strzelczyk talked about what this means to be back honouring graduates in person again.

Read more: University of Lethbridge wraps up extensive convocation ceremonies

“Convocation is such an important milestone for our students, for our faculty, for our staff. Everybody is really excited to be back in person too,” Strzelczyk said.

“Students want to see their loved ones and their family and friends in the audience, they want to shake their professor’s hand, and they want to celebrate four years of hard work or however long their degree took them.”

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Around 8,000 students from the class of 2022 will walk across the stage at Alumni Hall over the next two weeks.

Western University graduates getting ready for first in-person convocation. June 13, 2022. Sawyer Bogdan / Global News
Western University graduates in Alumni Hall for first in-person convocation in the last two years. June 13, 2022. Sawyer Bogdan / Global News

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Among those graduating on Monday afternoon was the Western University faculty of education.

The future teachers that Global News spoke to were all excited to be able to celebrate their accomplishments in person after two years of primarily online classes.

Read more: Ontario university students struggling with online classes as COVID pandemic wears on

“It feels awesome. It’s been a long time coming, and it’s really good to finally see some of my classmates who I’ve been with the past couple of years,” said graduate Maddie Page.

“I never got my undergrad convocation, so this is probably kind of like putting the two together … So it’s nice to be in person and celebrate with everyone,” graduate Sarah Welch said.

Western University faculty of education graduates Madison Vergeer and Sarah Welch picking up their gowns for convocation. June 13, 2022. Sawyer Bogdan / Global News

For others like graduate Madison Vergeer, it’s “special” to be able to celebrate with classmates they only knew mostly through online classes.

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“We went to school during the pandemic, so we didn’t get a lot of the experiences in-person, especially with teaching, and being able to do that all together and celebrate is really awesome,” Vergeer said.

Read more: As graduations return in person, Saskatoon seeing an economic boost

Alumni Hall will be at full capacity, but to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the school is enforcing its COVID-19 vaccine requirement for all those looking to attend, as well as other measures.

“We have a mask policy on campus, and we have a vaccination policy. So all of those who come to us have to give proof of vaccination before they’re issued tickets,” Strzelczyk said.

Ceremonies will also take place in July for those who did not get in-person graduation over the last two years.

“We expect to have our graduates from 2020 and 2021 to come and attend the in-person ceremonies that we have set aside in July as make-up convocations,” Strzelczyk said.

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